DAILY CATHOLIC    FRI-SAT-SUN     July 23-25, 1999     vol. 10, no. 137


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Friday, July 23, 1999

    Friday July 23:
    Sixteenth Friday in Ordinary Time and
    Feast of Saint Bridget of Sweden, Married woman, Mystic and Religious Founder

    Green or white vestments

      First Reading: Exodus 20: 1-17
      Psalms: Psalm 19: 8-11 and John 6: 69
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 13: 18-23


          Born in Uppsala, Sweden in 1303, Saint Bridget was married by her parents at the early age of 14 to 18 year-old Prince Ulf Gudmarsson in 1317. The couple had eight children, one of whom being Saint Karen, a Scandinavian derivation of Catherine. God blessed the family with great faith and wisdom and their reputation reached the court of King Magnus II, the young ruler of Sweden who summoned Bridget in 1335 to serve as the lady-in-waiting for Magnus' wife, Blanche of Namur the young queen of Sweden. However, Bridget was greatly distressed by the royals' extravagance and sought unsuccessfully to curb their excesses, but to no avail. It was during this time that she began receiving messages from God. Shortly after the death of Gudmar her youngest son, she and Ulf made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain where the relics of Saint James can be found. It so moved them that they decided to live the rest of their lives in monasteries and live the life of celibacy. Ulf died in a Cistercian monastery in 1344 at the age of 45. This prompted Bridget to put on the penitent garb and live an ascetic lifestyle, but the private revelations grew so intense that Bridget first feared she was being deceived by the evil one. However through prayer and the assurance of a learned Cistercian monk, she realized they were indeed from Heaven. Still befriended by Magnus, he offered financial assistance for her to begin two monasteries and found the Order of the Most Holy Savior which is almost non-existent today except for the Bridgettines. In the Holy Year of 1350 Bridget went to Rome where she remained until her death in 1373. She endeavored tirelessly to bring the Holy Father back to Rome from exile in Avignon and held nothing back in denouncing the wickedness of the nobility in Naples and Cyrus. It was in Rome where Bridget received the "Revelations of St. Bridget" which included the 15 Promises and Secrets and meditations on Christ's Passion, printed in the "Pieta" small booklet distributed everywhere. With one of her sons and her daughter Karen (Catherine) by her side, Bridget died peacefully at the age of 70. With great pomp and circumstance her body was transported back to Sweden and laid to rest at the monastery in Vadstena.

Saturday, July 24, 1999

    Saturday, July 24:
    Sixteenth Saturday in Ordinary Time andBR>Observance of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday

    Green or white vestments

      First Reading: Exodus 24: 3-8
      Psalms: Psalm 50: 1-2, 5-6, 14-15
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 13: 24-30


          Honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary is a custom first promoted by the Benedictine Monk Saint Alcuin back in the days of Charlemagne (see archives December 23, no. 25 issue, volume 7). He composed different formulas for Votive Masses for each day of the week, with two set aside to honor Our Lady on Saturday. This practice caught on with great enthusiasm and eventually the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday became the Common of the Blessed Virgin. This Mass was a favorite with retired priests and those whose sight was failing for most had memorized this Mass and were able to say it by heart without having to read the Lectionary or Sacramentary. One reason Saturday was dedicated to Mary was that Saturday held a special meaning in Mariology. First of all, as Genesis accounts for, God rested on the seventh day. In the Old Testament, the Sabbath was Saturday. Jesus, Son of God rested in the womb and then, when He became incarnate, in the loving arms of Mary from birth until she held His lifeless body at the foot of the Cross. Thus the God-head rested in Mary. It was also on Saturday after Good Friday that Jesus gave His Mother a special gift and reward for keeping her faith in His Divinity intact by making an exceptional appearance to her. Thus, because of these reasons, the devotion spread by St. Alcuin and other liturgies that evolved within the Church, Saturday took on a special Marian significance. Saturday took on even more significance in honoring Mary when Our Lady imparted to visionary Lucia in her third apparition at Fatima on July 13, 1917, "Our Lord wishes that devotion to my Immaculate Heart be established in the world. If what I tell you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace; the war will end...I ask the consecration of the world to my Immaculate Heart and Communion of reparation on the First Saturday of each month...If my requests are granted, Russia will be converted and there will be peace...In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph, and an era of peace will be conceded to humanity." As we draw nearer to that wonderful event, it is more important than ever to honor Mary's request on the First Saturday as well as each Saturday that her feast is commemorated in the Church calendar, not to mention responding to her call daily with the Rosary and attending Daily Mass, nourished by her Divine Son present body and blood, soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. It is in the Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary where she remains in the background in the liturgy of the Word so that her Divine Son's words and His Presence take the spotlight as He should while Mary remains the chief intercessor before the Holy Trinity as she should and serves as the ideal for all Catholics to strive for, as we should. The Dictionary of Mary states quite succinctly, "Through these liturgical acts, (honoring Mary on Saturday) Christians exalt the person of Mary in the action that renews the sacrifice of Christ and in the action that prolongs His prayer."

SUNDAY, July 25, 1999

      First Reading: 1 Kings 3: 5, 7-12
      Psalms: Psalm 119: 57, 72, 76-77, 97, 127-130
      Second Reading: Romans 8: 28-30
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 13: 44-52

Though today's Feast is superseded by the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, it is traditionally the Feast of Saint James the Apostle, the Greater.


          Known as Saint James the Greater because he was called to be an Apostle before the other James, he was also the older brother of Saint John the Evangelist who were sons of Zebedee and Salome. He followed his brother John to the shores of the Jordan River where he was called by Jesus to be "fishers of men." James was one of the three privileged Apostles, along with Peter and John, to witness three miraculous events - the healing of Peter's mother-in-law (cf Matthew 1: 29-31), resurrection of the daughter of Jairus (cf. Mark 5: 37-43) and the Transfiguration of Jesus (cf. Mark 9: 2-8). James was also present in the agony of Garden as one of the few apostles who accompanied Jesus there and fell asleep. Jesus affectionately called James a "son of thunder" because of his great flaming love of his soul for the Son of God. James revealed his humanity in Luke 9: 51-56 when James impetuously railed about calling down fire from Heaven on the Samaritans because of their lack of faith and in the famous scene in Mark 10: 35-45 where the two brothers ask Jesus for the privilege of sitting at His right side in Heaven. But after Pentecost all imperfections faded and James went on to preach the Gospel in Samaria and Judea, then traveled a great distance to Spain where he evangelized. In Zaragosa, Spain around 40 AD the Blessed Mother made her first recorded apparition, this before her Assumption, appearing to James in a vision as Our Lady of Pilar because she stood on a pillar with the angels supporting it. Her purpose was to summon him back to Jerusalem where he was martyred by beheading at the hands of Herod Agrippa around 43 AD. He was buried in Jerusalem but his relics were transfered to Compostela, Spain in 830 where they remain today.

Monday, July 26, 1999

    Monday July 26:
    Feast of Saint Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

    White vestments

      First Reading: Exodus 32: 15-24, 30-34
      Psalms: Psalm 106: 1, 19-23
      Gospel Reading: Matthew 13: 31-35


         The apocryphal Protoevangelium of St. James claims that the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joachim and Saint Anne were sterile, yet an angel predicted Mary's birth to Joachim after he had spent 40 days in the desert fasting and praying. Anne was too old by biological standards to give birth, but God in His Providence miraculously allowed Anne to be impregnated with the wondrous Immaculate Conception. At Mary's birth she was given the name Miriam which was shortened to Mary and, at a very early age, Joachim and Anne consecrated her to God sending her off to the Temple to study and live her Hebrew faith. St. Anne or Ann, which means "grace," was, along with Joachim, given special graces for their faithfulness, and the greatest grace was that they were chosen to be the parents of the Mother of God and the grandparents of Jesus, Son of God. St. Anne is considered the patron of mothers and of special importance to children and she is greatly venerated in Canada, specifically at the massive St. Anne Beaupre Basilica in Quebec. At first St. Anne was the only one recognized in the Church dating back to the crusades, but St. Joachim was added in 1584 by Pope Gregory XIII and the two feasts were combined into one day; originally this was March 20, the day after the feast of St. Joseph, but in 1969 the Church, through recommendation of the Second Vatican Council, moved the date to July 26th.

July 23-35, 1999       volume 10, no. 137


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